I am a bit apprehensive about this day because we are live streaming the Holy Thursday service from the sanctuary at First UMC in Worthington. The live stream isn't the part that I am a bit anxious about. I'm concerned about the Lord's Supper part, because even though we've tried to prepare people to be ready for it in their own homes, Holy Communion has always been done in community with certain persons presiding over the sacrament. Those certain persons are usually ordained or specially trained persons who have been made aware of the meaning of Holy Communion. They have been granted the authority to lead and serve Holy Communion in the church setting.
The question is: does the same authority work as it's conveyed over the internet? What actually happens to the bread and wine in each person's home or office as they gather for this special service tonight?
Let's talk about that - our United Methodist Bishop Bruce Ough has given each church permission to perform Communion online. Here is his response to the questions I posed above:
Question: Can communion be consecrated online?
Answer: Yes. Bishop Ough grants permission for pastors to do online communion, which typically consists of clergy offering the words of consecration remotely, and people using elements in their homes to take communion (here is a sample liturgy for online communion). That said, he strongly encourages clergy to be intentional about how they do this and to do it well by explaining or using scripture to interpret the meaning of communion and using the words of institution.
in some ways, it actually seems natural that persons, families and friends would gather in their homes to celebrate Holy Communion. It does seem like a natural extension of what Jesus and His disciples did on that night so long ago. They gathered in a room with a table. Jesus washed the feet of each person there, performing the actions of a servant. Then He took the staples of bread and wine and connected them forever to his saving actions on Good Friday. The body was broken, much like Jesus' body would be broken. The blood was poured out, much like Jesus' blood was poured out as He was crucified. So to remember this sacrament in our homes makes sense because of the relational nature of it.
It reminds us of what Jesus did for us.
So as we gather, the words might be a little different, but the intention will be the same... to remember Jesus and what He has done for us. May this time be a blessing to us and to our families as we remember our Lord and Savior.